Here, scanned in its entirety is an article titled "Witches Are Rising" by Brian Vachon. I've never been into witchcraft or satanism myself, but the occult frenzy of the Seventies fascinates me. Enjoy.
The bank check was thumb-tacked to the door of the waiting room. "The Chucch of Satan, Louisville, Ky., sends to Central Church of Satan," the check declared in funereal script, this payment "for 15 souls."
The room was in front of the three-story, solid black, San Francisco headquarters of the First Church of Satan. A coffee table at an ornate black sofa was a tombstone with legs. On the mantel, a small stuffed animal-a rat-stared down with an eternally frozen grin. To its right was the severed head of a bald eagle, staring nowhere.
On one wall of bookcases was a small label suggesting that persons caught removing any books would have their hands amputated. On the other three walls hung paintings, all depicting death and some un-nice ways of reaching that state, all signed by Anton Szandor LaVey.
After what seemed an interminable marking of time, one of the wall bookcases slowly revealed itself to be a door, and the large, broad-shouldered, demoniac Anton LaVey glided into the room.
LaVey has been called—to his sheer delight—"America's black pope." As titular head of the First Church of Satan, he has also been called a lot of other things. But principally, LaVey is a witch. He practices the magic of the occult -in his case, black magic.
His church, which claims 10,000 carefully screened members, specializes in ceremonial psycho-dramas designed to eliminate all inhibition; rituals in which naked women are occasionally used as altars, and phallic symbols are shaken toward each point of the compass for benediction.
"There is a demon inside man," LaVey said with his basso at its most profundo. "It must be exercised, not exorcised—channeled into ritualized hatred."
This is the black side of witch-craft-"hedonism with control" in LaVey's Satanic church, but grim forays into the occult and the unknown for a growing number of unorganized black witches. In California, police report youths are found carrying ritual bags that contain drugs, potions, animal bones and occasionally human fingers. Residents near Western mountain areas have claimed to hear eerie...
LaVey says he does not worship Satan, or even believe in his existence. "But there is a Force—a Godhead or whatever you want to call it. It is a displacement of the energy of human beings that will become a malleable source of action for the magician-the witch."
If LaVey is the epitome of black witchcraft in America today, he has an apparent total antithesis who is also a very real witch. He is Raymond Buckland, Ph.D., a bearded, bookish, British man who lives a comparatively unheralded existence in the quiet suburb of Brentwood, N.Y. He became one of the country's original, orthodox witches nine years ago. (Up to 20 years ago, and for previous centuries, there were no admitted witches anywhere.) Buckland says his religion has traditions that go back to the dawn of man, and he insists that it is people like LaVey who give witchcraft a bad name.
Buckland recently quit a white-collar job with an airline to devote his professional life to giving witchcraft a good name, lecturing, writing and—last June-opening the country's first Museum of Witchcraft and Magick, in Bay Shore, Long Island, N.Y. He says the craft is a benign religion which emphasizes that good and evil are repaid thrice within a person's lifetime, and that ritual and ceremony are used to heal, help and pay homage to the ancient gods and goddesses.
Each month, when the moon is full, several cars park in front of Buckland's modest ranch-style home, and half a dozen couples file into the basement for a meeting of the coven—the tiny witch congregation. I asked if I could attend a meeting. I couldn't. But Buckland did show me the coven-stead-a small partitioned area in the basement with a nine-foot circle drawn in the center of the floor. He said his wife Rosemary—the high priestess of the coven—conducts the rituals, and he and the rest of the members assist-in the nude-chanting the names of the gods and singing ancient hymns.
"It's really a family religion, you see. It brings people together."
Between the extremes of LaVey and Buckland is the medley of new domestic witches—the explorers of the occult, the polytheists and pantheists whose search for some kind of religious experience has brought them to the craft.
I met a bevy of witches in the,,,
Another male witch I met ("warlock," I was told, is a Christian word) is a 30-year-old manuscript editor named Aden who started a coven of his own.
"A few years ago, a bunch of us began what was fundamentally an occult study group. There were 20 of us, and after a while we agreed we should have a real ritual ceremony—traditional and in the nude. No one really knew how to get it started, but eventually one guy just started taking off his clothes and the rest of us followed. It was really fine—not an orgy at all, but a religious ritual. Most of us came away from it really glowing."
Aden's coven has been holding meetings, or "Esbats," fairly regularly on the eve of the full moon ever since. I asked if I could attend one, and this time, I could, if I agreed to take the coven oath. He assured me it required only that I be true to my own conscience.
The Esbat took place in Aden's four-room flat, and it seemed to sneak up on me. At first, young men and women seemed to be meandering into the apartment, smiling, greeting each other and introducing themselves to me—cheerful and articulate and fitting no stereotype of "witch."
Suddenly, or I suppose eventually, someone pulled the blinds across the front windows, some others started disrobing, and in a very short period of time, had I remained dressed, I would have been the only one in that condition.
The ceremony started with a circle dance, all of us holding hands and rotating clockwise, then counterclockwise, then in a snaking trail around the living room, singing a la-la-de-da-da melody happily, freely and unselfconsciously. Every once in a while in the dance, people would stop and kiss—a quick, unsensuous smack on the lips, which is witches saying hello.
Then the oath was recited—a long litany of incantations to the lady, which contained nothing contrary to Judeo-Christian tradition but nothing much like it either. Then followed a series of symbolic rituals: the "closing of the circle" with a young girl chanting as she walked behind us with a sword pointed downward, the elevation of a male and female witch to the posts of "priest and priestess," the passing of a cup of wine and the recitation of more ritual rhetoric.
After the ceremony was over— in less than an hour—we sat in a circle and ate cookies and melons and finished the wine.
"This really does give me a mystical experience, a feeling of oneness with the universe," said an uncommonly delectable 16-year-old girl whom I had been carefully not staring at. "This is my religion. For me, it works."
There are no brooms to ride, no pointed black hats to wear or frogs to be turned into princes. For more and more young people, there is just an old, old-time religion coming to the surface for the first time in this country. In an anything-goes society and with a new do-it-yourself orthodoxy, white, black and gray witches have the freedom to practice a craft that had been traditionally forbidden.